When the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing

On Friday night, I went up to bed late.

On the way, I made a quick stop at my desk, just to quickly check my email, and when I was done with that, I gathered up my phone, and some other bits and bobs I wanted to take upstairs with me, and headed for the door.

I’d almost reached it when the landline suddenly started ringing.

At half-past midnight.

Oh. My. God.

Now, if you’re a worrier – or if you’ve just recently watched The Ring, even – you’ll know exactly why this freaked me out. I mean, middle-of-the-night phonecalls NEVER bode well, do they? Which is why, as soon as the ringing started, I let out a small shriek of horror, and rushed to pick up the phone, hurting my foot on the plastic mat Terry’s chair sits on in the process. (That detail has absolutely nothing to do with this story, by the way, it just REALLY hurt. Seriously, Terry: FIX THAT THING. Anyway!)

Picking up the phone, I clutched it to my ear, already breathless with the horrified anticipation of whatever type of bad news – and it could only BE bad news – awaited me.

“HELLO?” I shouted, panic rising. “HELLO?”

Nothing. Well, ALMOST nothing – I could hear the faint echo of my own voice coming back at me, but that was it. So I shouted some more, working myself into a fine old state as I did so.

“HELLO?” I yelled, over and over. “HELLO? HELLO? WHO’S THERE? HELLO?”

At this point Terry, who’d been in the bathroom, getting ready for bed, appeared at the door, eyes wide with alarm.

“Terry!” I said, almost weeping by this point. “The phone rung! And there’s no one there! And it’s almost 1am, which means that whoever’s phoning us is obviously in the middle of some kind of emergency! Like, what’s probably happened is, they’ve been in a car accident, right? And now they’re lying there in the middle of the road… they just had the strength to dial our number, but now they can’t even speak, and OMG WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DOOOOO?!”

“Give me that,” said Terry, taking the phone and putting it to his ear. “Hello?” he said – LIKE I HADN’T TRIED THAT ALREADY. GOD.

Then he hung up and started dialling 1471. (Which, for the non-Brits among you, is the number you dial to find out who the last person who called you was.)

“You can’t do that!” I said, scandalised. “Whoever that was NEEDS us! They’re lying dying in the road, for God’s sake!”

And guys, I really believed that was probably what was happening. In my defence, there have been a few too many ‘bad-news-in-the-middle-of-the-night-phonecalls’ in my life, and now they freak me out so much that if you ever call me late at night, you better HOPE you have an emergency. Because if not, you will by the time I’m done yelling at you.

“I recognise this number,” said Terry, as the robotic voice read it out to him. “This is a number that calls here a lot.”

Well, that did it. We’ve had a huge amount of nuisance calls lately – mostly of the “We’re calling from the National Accident Bureau: we hear you’ve been in an accident” type. (Actually, we get so many of these that we’ve now started putting ‘Rubin’ on the phone to talk to them. It’s pretty funny, really, just… not in the middle of the night, you know?)


“Amber!” called Terry, unceremoniously interrupting my rant. “That number? That’s YOUR NUMBER, idiot.”

And yes, it was my number. As I picked up my phone from the desk and walked out of the room, I’d somehow hit one of the keys and basically pocket-dialled my own stupid self. That echo I’d heard? Had been my OWN VOICE COMING OUT OF MY IPHONE. I’d been standing there with one phone in my left hand and one in the right, with those two phones TALKING to each other. It was a case where the left hand LITERALLY didn’t know what the right hand was doing. And where the right hand totally freaked the left hand out.

On the plus side, it gave Terry a good laugh – well, once he’d stopped rolling his eyes at me, anyway. And I suppose it could’ve been worse: I mean, if I HAD been watching The Ring that night, I’m not sure I’d have lived to tell the tale…

(Aside: any time I mention having a land line, people tend to fall over with horror, and act like we’re some kind of relics from the last century: we have it because we have a Limited Company, which has to have a phone number associated with it, and we don’t want to give out our cellphone numbers. So now you know!)

P.S. I write a weekly diary which goes out every Friday to my subscribers. Sign up below to get on the list...

books by Amber Eve
  • At least I know I’m not the only person to have phone drama. I remember once I was in town and started to panic because I couldn’t find my phone. I was frantic and thought maybe I’d lost it in one of the shops I’d been in. I was just starting to tell my mum that I needed to backtrack, when I remembered. I was talking to my mum. On the phone. Oh dear!! x

    October 24, 2015
  • Ha! Not much to say except that’s really funny, and I am the same way with lat night phone calls – either it’s an emergency or it will be the time I’m done with them.

    October 24, 2015
  • Miss Kitty


    This made me laugh out loud. I have pocket dialled a few people by mistake, but I haven’t done it to myself yet. I hate late night phone calls as well – except the last one I had was good news, I had a new nephew 🙂

    October 24, 2015
    • Miss Kitty


      Just a by-the-way – on your old blog format there used to be an option to tick if you wanted to be notified of new comments, which was handy if you didn’t want to keep checking the post. It doesn’t seem to be around now? Unless I’m missing something, which is entirely possible 🙂

      October 24, 2015
  • Oh dear! You’re so funny! Thanks for the morning chuckle, even though it was kinda at your expense. But yes, I do weird things like this too. Like all the time. Glad it was only you and not some horrible news or character from The Ring.

    October 24, 2015
  • Ha! Amazing!

    Although on the subject of all those recorded messages, I’ve started reporting the numbers to the ICO. We’re registered not to receive them and I’VE HAD ENOUGH!!!!

    October 25, 2015
  • “You can’t do that!” I said, scandalised. “Whoever that was NEEDS us! They’re lying dying in the road, for God’s sake!”
    Lolest, God, Amber you should have a career in comedy. l was clutching my mid section and a hand over my mouth (because l am in the public library) the whole time l was reading this. I am already getting strange looks.

    October 25, 2015
  • Flagless


    When I watched The Ring (thanks to that film, I still sleep with lights on. Ten years later.), I actually received a phone call late at night. That very night. Right after I’d finished the film. It was about 1 am. I almost died of fright, because I am a total wuss (see: sleeping with lights on, above). It was my aunt. She is, let’s say, unwell and often does inexplicable things. But it was still terrifying.

    October 25, 2015
  • I feel bad for laughing but the mental image of Terry telling you that you butt-dialed yourseld is priceless. Glad it wasn’t someone calling with an emergency.

    October 26, 2015
  • Hilarious! And on the subject of nuisance phone calls, my land line (yes, I have one and will as long as I can ?) is one number different from the local Mexican restaurant. It’s a nuisance, indeed.

    October 27, 2015